Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday 2013

And the Holy Spirit even testifies to us, for after the saying: “‘This–the testament which I will testify to them after those days,’ says the Lord; ‘I will give my Law upon their heart, and upon their mind I will engrave them...and their sins and their lawlessness, no, I will no longer remember.’” And where there is forgiveness of these, no longer is there an offering concerning sin. Having been, then, brothers, we are bold into the entering of the holy place in the blood of Jesus, was made new to us, a not previously existing and living pathway through the veil, that is, His flesh, and a great Chief Priest upon the house of God, may we come forward with a genuine heart in fullness of faith, hearts sprinkled from consciences of evil, and bodies washed in pure water; may we hold firm the confession of the hope unwavering, for faithful is the One Who has promised; and may we consider others into urgings of (God’s) love and good works, and may we not abandon the gathering together of ourselves, just as the custom of some, but calling (them) alongside, and so much more as you see the approaching of the Day.   

Back in OT days, as people gave into temptation, they brought a sacrifice to God for their sin. Once a year, on Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement, 1 sacrifice was made for all people’s sins. A lamb was killed in the place of God’s people. The chief priest entered the holy of holies to pour some of its blood on the mercy seat of the altar of God’s presence. The rest he sprinkled 7 times on the people.  

This was the way of the old testament, or old promise of God to reconcile His people to Himself by the forgiveness of their sins. But this old way forshadowed a new testament which would not have to be repeated for every sin, or even once a year. God had found a way to take a new Lamb, one even better than the spotless lamb of the Passover sacrifice, Who became a once-&-for-all offering for all your sins & lawless deeds, so that God would not remember them any more. This Lamb was Christ!

Sometimes you don’t really favor this way of reconciliation between you and God. It seems to easy. You begin to doubt a free gift to you of forgiveness is real. So your sinful flesh seeks to do this or avoid that as though you can somehow make yourself presentable to God. You can’t. You can never make yourself good enough to earn God’s love, since His standard is impossible for you: “be perfect”.

But don’t think that the way of reconciliation was easy. It may be free to you, but only because it was so costly to Jesus. He is the sacrificial Lamb Who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus gave up His body unto death for you on the +, and shed His blood for you at Calvary to forgive your sins. His flesh given to you replaces the old veil that separated the people from God’s presence. You now approach the Lord’s Table with confidence, knowing that no offering is needed for sin any longer!

Yet you still tend to think that God ought to love you despite all of this, because you consider yourself a pretty good-hearted person. You are no mean, nasty criminal. You care for your family and live life as a model citizen most of the time. You are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you, so why shouldn’t God? But you are lying to yourself. You aren’t holy like God Himself is holy.

So you are in need of cleansing. Just as the blood of the lamb sprinkled 7 times upon the Israelites cleansed them from your sin, you too have received a washing. Not one that has to be repeated like the one of Yom Kippur, but you have been washed with the pure water of your baptism. Your heart has been sprinkled clean from your old evil conscience. You can come forward today to partake of the Lord’s Supper with a genuine heart, one that is now full of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Still, at times you wonder if you really need so much of God’s word in your life. “A worship service that exceeds an hour! That pastor must just like to hear himself talk.” You want to limit what you hear from Jesus because you think that the smallest bit of God’s word is plenty for you. How much of the same promises of God do you need to hear? Repent of limiting God’s word to you by your reluctant listening

For Jesus wants you to hear that He loves you over and over again. Would you tell your beloved spouse that they say “I love you” too much? So rejoice likewise that Jesus wants the words of His promised love to you to echo frequently in your ears, so much so that these words become your own confession of hope, opening your own mouth and the words of God’s gospel promise come out. For your neighbor needs the same encouragement of God’s love that you do, lest he/she stop gathering in church for worship. Your confession of God’s promise calls them back to worship alongside you!  


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